Student scams

Fraudsters and criminals can target anyone, even young people and students.

Learn how to keep yourself and your money safe.


Fraudsters are targeting students

They know that students are often away from home and may be looking for ways to earn some extra cash.

If you know the methods they can use, you’ll find it easier to protect yourself.

Avoid becoming a money mule

What's a money mule?

If you allow someone else to use your bank account to move money, you’re a money mule. Criminals pay to use bank accounts so the money they make from crime looks ‘clean’.

They may find people to do this by posting ads on social media. Criminals make it look like a quick way to make money, a currency exchange deal or a job. They may even come to your college or university to try to get you to agree to it.

It might sound like an easy way to make some quick cash, but it’s a crime. You can go to prison for up to 14 years – a sudden end to your student experience.

Top tips for staying safe

Never let anyone use your account and keep your bank card, PIN and Online Banking details private.

If you’re offered a job, research it well. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Criminals often seem friendly to try persuade you to become a money mule. Never trust anyone that wants to use your bank account to move money.

Has someone tried to recruit you?

If you think someone’s trying to convince you to move money for them, report them to the police on 101, or call 999 if it’s an emergency.

You can also visit Crimestoppers or call them on 0800 555 111.

If criminals have your personal or banking details, you need to tell your bank. Then visit Action Fraud or call them on 0300 123 2040.

Learn more about money mules

Other ways students could be targeted

Scam messages

Fraudsters message students about things that are important to them, like student loan payments. They only need your email address or phone number to do this.

Watch out for messages that shock you into action – a deadline or a threat to get you to follow a fake link. You can make sure a link is real by using a website checker like the one on Get Safe Online.

Always check an email address matches a sender’s name. Tap it on a mobile or hover your computer’s mouse cursor over it. If you want to contact a sender, use a phone number you trust, not one from a message.

More about scam messages

Romance scams

Fraudsters use social media and dating sites to build relationships and steal money.

They often use fake photos and pretend to be other people. They’ll say they want to meet in real life but then use any excuse to avoid meeting or even chatting on a video call.

Use a reverse image search online to check if their profile photo is genuine. Tell others about them and get their opinions.

You’ll know for sure it’s a romance scam if they ask you to send them money.

More about romance scams

Advance fee scams

It can be tricky to find good accommodation at an affordable price when you’re a student, and fraudsters know that.

They post fake adverts online and when you get in touch, they pressure you to pay a fee upfront to take the property off the market. But the property isn’t real, and they’ve stolen your money.

Use a trustworthy company, agent or landlord when looking for somewhere to live. Your university or college may be able to help.

Always go to see a property before you pay any fees or a deposit and make sure your deposit is protected by a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.

More about advance fee scams

Stay safe when shopping online

Students may look online to buy items like second hand furniture, mobile phones and tickets at low prices. Fraudsters take advantage of this by posting items that don’t really exist.

Can you pay by card?

Fraudsters will ask you to pay by bank transfer because they know that it makes it harder to recover the money.

If a seller or website won’t let you pay by card, or any other way that protects your money, it’s a scam.

Have you seen the item?

Always try to see an item in person before you pay for it.

Take your time, don’t rush into paying for something, if you’re not sure.

Always look for reviews you can trust to make sure a website or seller is genuine.

Is it too good to be true?

Items at lower than normal prices, especially if they’re hard to find or sold out elsewhere, could be a scam.

Fraudsters may make you feel rushed into a decision by telling you someone else is interested.

Read more about how to buy online safely.

Learn about other scams and how to protect yourself

Learn about the latest scams

Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to try to steal your details and money. Discover which scams are common right now.

Go to latest scams

Have you been targeted by fraudsters?

Contact us right away if you think you've been scammed. We can then guide you on what to do next.

Contact us now

Stay scam safe

Find out how to spot and avoid scams, and how to report fraud.

Protect yourself from fraud

Stay scam safe

Find out how to spot and avoid scams, and how to report fraud.

Protect yourself from fraud